Hartford, CT – Albany, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Albany is returning to the NCAA Tournament after winning the America East Tournament for the third straight year.
This time, it took a dramatic shot to complete the three-peat.
Peter Hooley drained a 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds remaining, giving the Great Danes a stunning 51-50 win over Stony Brook to once again deny the Seawolves their first-ever NCAA Tournament bid.
Albany also beat Stony Brook for the title last year, rallying from a deficit in the second half for a 69-60 triumph, but Saturday's contest featured a thrilling finish.
The Great Danes trailed by seven with just under three minutes remaining, then clawed back to within one at 49-48. Carson Puriefoy split a pair of free throws with 16.9 seconds left for Stony Brook to make it a two-point game.
Albany went for the tie, but Ray Sanders' driving layup went high off the glass and the rebound was tapped back toward the perimeter. Hooley quickly gathered the ball in and sank a shot from just above the top of the key to put the Great Danes on top for the first time in the second half. It was Albany's only made 3-pointer in 10 tries all game.
Puriefoy tried to rush up the floor, but never got a shot away as time expired and Stony Brook fell in the conference championship game for the fourth time in the last five years.
Hooley, who missed a few weeks of the regular season to return to Australia to be with his dying mother, finished with 10 points for Albany (24-8), which improved to 5-0 in the AEC title game.
Sam Rowley, who went 0-for-7 from the field in the first half, scored 14 points to lead the Great Danes, while Evan Singletary added 11. Albany beat Mount St. Mary's in the opening round of last year's NCAA Tournament, then fell to Florida in the second round.
Puriefoy led Stony Brook (23-11) with 23 points, while AEC Player of the Year Jameel Warney contributed 20 with 14 rebounds.
Stony Brook held a 41-33 advantage with just over six minutes left after a 3- pointer by Puriefoy. The Great Danes scored the next five and had a chance to pull closer, but Sanders missed a tough layup with 4 1/2 minutes to play.
Puriefoy then drilled a three to extend the margin back to six and he hit another from beyond the arc with just under three minutes remaining to make it a 47-40 game.
Albany, though, again clawed back and two free throws by Mike Rowley with 21.7 seconds to play after a Stony Brook turnover drew the Great Danes within one to set up the incredible finish.
The Great Danes, who won last year on Stony Brook's home floor, led for a majority of the first half in this one, but the Seawolves closed with the final seven points to grab a 20-16 advantage after 20 minutes.
Albany became the first No. 1 seed to win the conference tournament since Binghamton in 2009 ... The Great Danes also joined Northeastern (1984-87), Drexel (1994-96) and Vermont (2003-05) as the only teams to win at least three straight America East Tournament titles ... It marked the seventh title game rematch in the history of the America East. The reigning champion improved to 6-1 in the rematch ... Stony Brook, in addition to the last two years, lost to Boston University in the 2011 championship game and fell to Vermont in the 2012 title contest.